Being an employer in the UK can be a challenging task, particularly when it comes to comprehending the various types of workers and their legal entitlements. It is crucial for an employer to be aware of these classifications and to understand the differences between employees and consultants.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the various types of workers in the UK, the differences between an employee and a consultant, and what it means for employers.

What is an Employee?

An employee is an individual who works for a business or company, under a contract of employment, which can be written, oral, or implied. They are typically issued with a set of terms and conditions that stipulate their working hours, pay, and any benefits. Additionally, an employee is entitled to statutory employment rights such as a minimum wage, protection against discrimination, and sick pay.

It’s worth noting that there are different types of employees based on their employment status. For instance, full-time, part-time, temporary, and agency workers all have varying terms and conditions.

What is a Consultant?

On the other hand, a consultant is an independent contractor who offers their services to businesses or organisations. They are not part of the day-to-day workings of the company, but rather work on specific projects or provide specialist expertise. Consultants typically enter into a contract of service, which outlines the scope of their services, fees, and timeline. They also have more control over their working arrangements and may work for multiple clients simultaneously.

The Differences between an Employee and a Consultant

Understanding the difference between an employee and a consultant is critical for employers, as it will have implications for how they manage their workforce. The primary difference lies in the nature of the working relationship. An employee works under the close direction and supervision of their employer, while a consultant operates independently and takes more control over their work.

Additionally, while employees are protected by employment law, consultants don’t require the same legal protections as they are not an employee. This means that they are responsible for their tax affairs, and they do not receive statutory employment rights.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Both employees and consultants have their benefits and drawbacks. Employees enjoy a sense of job security, employee benefits, such as healthcare and retirement plans, and a steady income stream. However, they may experience limited career growth and advancement opportunities, as well as less flexibility when it comes to work arrangements.

Consultants, on the other hand, often have more flexibility, higher pay rates, and may have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects or clients. However, they do not receive employee benefits and may have trouble finding consistent work or maintaining a stable income.


Another key difference between employees and consultants is their expertise and experience. Employees are typically trained in-house and have a deep understanding of the company’s culture, practices, and policies. They may have specialised knowledge as well, but their focus is on the specific tasks or roles assigned to them.

Consultants, however, bring an outside perspective and specialised experience that may not be found within the business. They typically have a broader range of skills and knowledge and can provide valuable insights and recommendations.

The Different Types of Workers in the UK

Apart from employees and consultants, there are other types of workers in the UK, each with varying employment rights and obligations. They include:

  • Agency Workers: They work for a recruitment agency and are placed with different companies on a temporary or short-term basis.
  • Casual Workers: They work on an ad-hoc basis with no regular or predictable hours.
  • Seasonal Workers: They are hired for a specific period, usually in industries such as agriculture and tourism.
  • Apprentices: They are individuals in a structured training program to gain new skills and qualifications.

As an employer in the UK, understanding the different classifications of workers and the differences between employees and consultants is critical. This knowledge will enable you to manage your workforce more effectively and ensure that you are meeting your legal obligations. If you’re still unsure about what type of worker you have or need further guidance, contact us for support to protect your business and avoid any potential legal issues. Email us at